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Proceedings Paper

Analysis of gravitational effects on liquid lenses (ANGEL)
Author(s): Kevin Newman; Kyle Stephens
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Paper Abstract

Liquid lenses have been developed as a means for fast and reliable variable-focus optics by using an adjustable curvature in a liquid-liquid interface. The use of liquid lenses also provides the benefit of reducing the number of elements in a system, and providing a degree of freedom without any moving parts. Different methods for surface curvature actuation have been developed, including aperture adjustment, mechanical actuators, stimuli-responsive hydrogels, and mechanical-wetting. Current liquid lens designs are limited to small apertures (less than 4mm) and density-matching fluids to lessen the negative effects of gravity. By creating a lens intended for use in a microgravity environment, the aperture size can be increased by orders of magnitude, and optimal fluids can be used regardless of their density. Using a large-aperture (12mm) liquid lens, image and surface metrology was conducted using a fixed-focus configuration. The Software Configurable Optical Test System (SCOTS) method was utilized to test the effect of microgravity, standard gravity, and hypergravity on the liquid lens during parabolic flights. Under standard gravity, the RMS wavefront error (WFE) was 27 wavelengths, while microgravity conditions allowed an improvement to 17 wavelengths RMS WFE. Test performance can be improved by using lower viscosity fluids or longer duration microgravity flights. The experiment also served as an engineering demonstration for the SCOTS method in an environment where other methods of optical metrology would be impossible.

Paper Details

Date Published: 13 September 2012
PDF: 7 pages
Proc. SPIE 8450, Modern Technologies in Space- and Ground-based Telescopes and Instrumentation II, 84500G (13 September 2012); doi: 10.1117/12.926520
Show Author Affiliations
Kevin Newman, The Univ. of Arizona (United States)
Kyle Stephens, The Univ. of Arizona (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 8450:
Modern Technologies in Space- and Ground-based Telescopes and Instrumentation II
Ramón Navarro; Colin R. Cunningham; Eric Prieto, Editor(s)

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